What is Data Breach and How to Prevent It

Data breaches and leaks

There are certain factors that become important when you start a business. In large companies several security factors need to be considered, such as making sure that private data, resources, and other elements are well secured. Data is one of the most important resources of any company. If certain data is leaked from a firm, it may cause a lot of damage. Nowadays, data breach is one of the main problems that many businesses are fighting against.

To protect your firm (or your personal data) from data breach, you will need a comprehensive understanding of what data breach is, how to prevent it, and what you will need to do if it happens.

What is Data Breach?

First, let’s have a brief look at what data breach is. Data breach can be understood as an exposure of sensitive or confidential data to unauthorized personnel. Companies of all sizes are vulnerable to data breaches. In the US in 2014 there were 783 data breach incidents involving such big names as Home Depot and Staples. There are various ways through which data can be breached, from employee error to attacks by black hats. Therefore, understanding what data breach is and implementing proper prevention measurements is essential to preventing data leaks and consequent losses.

Data Breach Prevention Tips

  • Data breach preparedness plan
  • Increasingly, companies have been facing cyber-attacks on a daily, even hourly, basis. In 2014, the average cost of a data breach went up by a whopping 15 percent to $3.5 million. Such stats should remind companies to devise a data breach preparedness plan. Companies must be prepared with appropriate procedures in place. Data breach preparedness plans must be updated regularly to remain effective.

    Breaches must be prevented very proactively. Network infrastructure should be multi-layered and equipped with an intrusion prevention system. System alerts should be in place to notify IT, executives, and any concerning bodies in case of a breach. Companies must keep up with threats, identify new and contemporary risks, and establish ways to prevent them.

    Keep in mind that data breach preparedness plans are only good if people know how to implement and test them; otherwise they are useless.

  • Data breach response team
  • A data breach response team is assembled to prevent and manage any data breach. With an effective data breach response team, it will be easier to manage any crisis caused by data breach, and also to implement measures to prevent a breach.

    When assembling a response team, each company will need members from various departments. The CEO, President, COO, VPs, PR team members, IT team, and other leaders may want to be included. The response team created should be able to respond as quickly as possible, at any time of day. The team assembled needs to be fully aware that being on this team is a huge responsibility and that they should be familiar with company procedures for a data breach.

  • Employee training
  • Ensure that all employees are trained on how to protect data and avoid breaches. Employee training should take place regularly, not just when an employee is first hired. IT must take the lead to define the social media and Bring Your Own Device (BOYD) policies of the company for all employees. Historic high-profile data breaches can be used to explain the kind of damage data breaches can inflict.

    Employees must pay attention to the emails they open in their Inbox, and they must avoid opening suspicious emails that contain links in particular. Training in the areas of compliance, authorization, employee identity, and the like should also be given.

  • Regular software updates
  • All company software should be updated regularly: ERP systems, MS Office, anti-virus programs, and any other company-specific software must always be updated. IT must allocate enough budget, resources, and time for patches and updates.

    IT must have a strict software update policy and make sure that all updates are performed in a controlled fashion. For instance, if an employee downloads unknown software into the network, malicious websites could exploit the machine and get backdoor access to the network. One way to control employees from accessing such websites is by blocking those sites. In addition, companies should perform regular vulnerability assessment scans against internal and external threats on a weekly basis.

  • Keep data secure
  • Data must always remain secure to avoid breaches. IT must develop a procedure to protect data from cyber criminals and hackers. Data breach takes place due to many reasons. For instance, lost or stolen mobile devices including cell phones, tablets and laptops, backup tapes, CDs, thumb drives, etc. could cause data breaches.

    IT staff must encrypt all software and hardware at all times, as it is their responsibility to secure the devices they issue to employees. IT, in collaboration with HR, should also monitor the behavior of employees to prevent internal malicious data breaches.

    Data must always be backed up to mitigate the risk of breaches. One full backup should be done locally, within the company premises. The second backup must be to a remote location, using online backup solutions. Whether locally or to a remote location, the backups must continue.


The best way to handle any data breach is by creating a response plan that will be followed in any data breach incident. You need to know the source of the breach, who you should contact after the breach, and how to resolve the breach. Once you have a particular structure implemented, you will be able to face any data breach that occurs unexpectedly.